*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Getting married to your relationship partner usually means you want to be together for a long time and raise a family together while making happy memories, but what if you don't like to dedicate yourself to just one person?
Is it ok to go through with the wedding and then start a different relationship on the side just to avoid boredom or arguments?
Is it better to go on like this instead of getting a divorce, and would you still feel you deserve your partner's trust if you behaved that way without them knowing?
My friend Eliza, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, has been married to her husband Robert for five years. They don't have kids yet and are planning to wait a few more years to become parents.
"Working and getting promoted matters a lot to both of us, and I don't want to get stressed staying home and raising my kids while we have to keep saving to be able to cover the bills. That's not the kind of relationship and family that I want, and Robert knows it. We must be able to afford to get the things we like and to go on trips whenever we feel like it," Eliza said.
The couple met in college but lost touch a few years while they worked in different cities. They started talking again after Robert came back to work in Phoenix, and they met while shopping at the mall.
"It was unexpected but very nice. As soon as I saw him, I realized I'd missed him a lot. He came over, and we spent a few hours shopping. Then we had lunch together, and I gave him my number," Eliza said.
Robert texted her that very evening, and they sent messages to each other for the following two weeks. After that, they began calling each other and talked more about what they each wanted from a relationship and their goals for their careers.
"I liked that he wanted to achieve so many things. I didn't want to be with someone who loves wasting time. And he put so much energy into being there for me. There wasn't a day that I didn't talk to him for at least one hour, and he kept telling me he missed me and had compliments and cheered me up when I needed it. I knew we were a lot more than friends, but I didn't want to rush into anything until we were both sure how much we cared," Eliza said.
Three weeks after they got in touch again, Robert asked her out on a date. And the dinner they had that evening in Phoenix went so well that they kept going out every weekday for several months.
"I didn't really feel like dating over the weekend. Sure, I spent time with him, and we went on day trips sometimes, but eating out was more for during the week. On Saturday and Sunday, I only wanted to relax and see where a relationship with no stress or pressure could go," Eliza said.
Things moved quite fast from there, and in two months, Robert proposed to her. Eliza said yes, and they set the wedding date four months after the proposal.
"It was a quiet ceremony with our parents, siblings, and closest friends. That was enough for us. It was about love, not about dresses, flowers, or the cake. It was about us and our relationship and how much we cared," Eliza said.
Once they tied the knot, the couple moved into a new home in Phoenix and began getting used to each other's habits. Eliza learned how to cook more dishes and got organized about cleaning the house as often as she could.
Robert did his share of house chores and made dinner when she needed to do overtime. Everything seemed to be going well, except for one thing. Eliza didn't feel their relationship was as exciting as it had been in the beginning. She didn't want to tell her husband anything to avoid upsetting him, but almost as soon as they moved into the same place, she started to get bored.
"I didn't think it would be that way. To me, getting married should have made things more interesting, but it was like doing the same things every day. After two weeks, I kind of knew what my life would be like for the next 20 years. And I needed to add something to that," Eliza said.
While she wasn't considering a divorce or breaking up, she didn't feel like she could focus all her attention on her husband either. So, she got on social media and started chatting to several people.
That's how she made new friends that eventually turned into dates. She didn't hold on to a relationship with the same person, but she kept seeing other people and going out around Phoenix almost every evening when her husband thought she was doing overtime.
"And if someone happened to see me in town and told Robert, I just said it was an unexpected business dinner I couldn't avoid. He never questioned me and didn't look for excuses or explanations. At one point, I got the feeling he knew what it was all about, but I wasn't sure, so I didn't go ahead and tell it right out," Eliza said.
Things have been going on the same way for the past six years, and Eliza is considering keeping this up permanently.
"Maybe when we have a baby, I will take a break, but I think I found the right kind of life for me. I know Robert might feel upset if he ever finds out, but it's been working out so far, so I don't think there's any reason to worry about it. I had someone else during my whole marriage; there's no need to divorce. It's not about trust because it wasn't ever the same person. I still care about Robert, and I'm just seeing other people avoid feeling like my life has no purpose," Eliza said.
What do you think about this situation? Is it fair for Eliza to keep looking for other people while staying married to Robert and making him believe their relationship is going great? Should Eliza tell her husband that she doesn't feel like what they have together is enough and let Robert decide if he wants to stay married to her while she's dating several other people?